July 25, 2016
Situated just off Times Square in New York on 44th Street, between Millennium Broadway Hotel and The Premier Hotel,The Hudson Theatre opened on October 19, 1903 with a production of Cousin Kate starring Ethel Barrymore. Built by Henry B. Harris, a famous Broadway producer of that period, The Hudson Theatre is one of New York City’s oldest Broadway showplaces. The 100-foot long lobby was the largest ever seen on Broadway at that time. Among the stars that have graced the Hudson’s stage are Douglas Fairbanks, William Holden, Helen Hayes, Edward G. Robinson and Dorothy Gish. Barbara Stanwyck and Judith Anderson both made their debuts on its stage. On September 27, 1956 the first nationwide broadcast of “The Tonight Show” starring Steve Allen originated from The Hudson Theatre. It was granted landmark status for both its internal and external features in 1987.
The venue will receive significant front-of-house improvements to better serve its patrons including all new state-of-the-art seating, Ambassador Lounge premium lounge service, and increased and improved ladies' washrooms. In addition, significant backstage and technical upgrades, including new and expanded dressing rooms and new fly systems will transform The Hudson into a leading legitimate Broadway theater and destination for producers, directors, actors and creative teams. The anticipated re-launch of the theater is slated for the 2016/2017 Broadway Season.
Ambassador Theatre Group, through its subsidiary, Hudson Theatre LLC, has entered a long-term lease for The Hudson Theatre, its second theater on Broadway, from a subsidiary of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels plc (M&C). M&C and ATG will be, in a multi-million dollar project, restoring the landmark venue to its former glory as a Broadway playhouse.
M&C’s Chairman Kwek Leng Beng, said,
“The Hudson Theatre is one of the great historic landmarks in New York City and we have always been proud to have it in the Millennium & Copthorne family. We have proudly owned and maintained the theater as a cherished conference venue within our New York hotel estate since we acquired the Millennium Broadway Hotel New York in 1994. It was time for The Hudson to again become a destination where New Yorkers and visitors from around the world will experience great theater and entertainment. We are so pleased to have Ambassador Theatre Group partner with us on this new journey for The Hudson Theatre.”
July 18, 2016
From the Austin Daily Herald: After years of mere thoughts, ideas and a failed attempt, volunteer Jim Burroughs is happy to say a project to restore a mural on the side of Paramount Theatre is complete.
“It just stayed as a to-do project for many years,” Burroughs said.
Greg Wimmer, an artist based out of Rochester, completed work on the project two weeks ago.
He spent three days painting a revised version of the original mural, which appeared on the building when it first opened in September of 1929.
“It looks great,” Burroughs said. “Greg Wimmer does exquisite work.”
The mural is also a tribute to the history of the theater. The mural features two stars which say “Publix” inside of them. Publix was the company that originally owned Paramount Pictures and thereby Paramount Theater.
“[We added] it for historical purpose,” Burroughs said.
A mural grant, which matched donations received by the Paramount, helped make the restoration possible.
Story link and additional photo at: http://www.austindailyherald.com/2016/07/going-back-in-time-new-mural-pays-tribute-to-the-theaters-history/
July 14, 2016
In its heyday, Elvis came to Inman. So did Godzilla.
That was over a half-century ago, when the old Inman Theatre was alive and buzzing weeknights and Saturday afternoons, showing second-run films such as “Jailhouse Rock,” westerns and monster flicks like “Godzilla.” Tickets cost a quarter, popcorn and Coke were 10 cents each, and candy bars were a nickel.
Those days are gone, but the theater isn’t.
Today, the 275-seat Inman Theatre is alive and well again, thanks to a three-year restoration effort by its owners, Inman native Buren Martin and his wife Dorothy.
The Martins operate a theatrical troupe called Baillie Players, and are hosing summer drama camps for elementary-age students capped with performances on Friday nights.
“Alice and Wonderland” was the first production, and “Beauty and the Beast” is next.
“This is an amazing opportunity that has been waiting and coming together for a long time,” said Inman Mayor Cornelius Huff. “We are just excited to be a part of this new venture, to be able to assist this. It has exceeded my expectations.”
Huff is also excited that the Martins have opened the roomy theater’s doors at 41 Mill St. to City Council, which plans to hold monthly meetings there instead of at its cramped City Hall on Main Street.
“It’s going to open the door for a whole lot of things,” Huff said of future community events.
June 22, 2016
From KATV: Tuesday the Benton City Council held a special community meeting to discuss the future of the historic Palace Theater in downtown Benton.
There were three different proposals given, lots of discussion from council members, and a final outcome to have the city finance committee review the plan.
After three years of questions about the future of the theater, the council unanimously voted to approve the money for stabilization of the building through the finance committee. They decided to ask for $175,000 to renovate the theater.
“It hasn’t been pleasant, but we’re finally getting back to common census prevailing,” David Mattingly, Mayor of Benton, said.
All three proposals include the city investing in the asbestos abatement, fixing the roof and doing minor work on the mortar. The council voted to get that approved, and decided if that’s approved they will put the building up for auction once its deemed safe.
“Maybe we can hold an auction before Christmas and we’ll have a little bit of party and a present for everybody,” Mattingly said.
The new owner will be in charge of maintaining it and the rest of the cost.
June 17, 2016
From upr.org: When Michael Ballam, the founding general director of the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, came home from sabbatical in Italy 10 years ago, he saw the Utah Theatre at 18 W. Center St. – closed at the time – and knew instantly he wanted to reopen it.
His vision was it would be something for everyone. “It’s going to be a unique theater in Northern Utah,” Ballam said. “It will be able to do things that we cannot do in the (Ellen) Eccles Theatre or any other theater north of Salt Lake City, and this will allow us to do essentially any kind of performance imaginable.” The Utah Theatre used to show movies only. In its restoration, however, the plan is to host performances, organ concerts, silent and classic films. Restoration of the theater began in 2006 with the hope of completing it by 2008. However, as crews put more effort into the restoration, they realized more work needed to be done.
While they were digging a pit for an organ chamber to make room for a 1930’s Wurlitzer organ, crews hit a lot of water 11 feet down, a couple hundred of gallons a minute, UFOMT Managing Director Gary Griffin said.
The UFOMT then put in extra expenses for the organ so it could withstand the flow. “We poured four-and-a-half feet of reinforced concrete underwater, put a membrane, poured the walls and then pumped the water out, and put another membrane,” Griffin said. “So that organ chamber is setting in about four feet of water.” Ballam said he hopes people who visit the theater realize what a jewel box it is. To show its capability, the Utah Theatre’s first performance will be “Peter Pan,” a performance Ballam said will demonstrate freedom, youth and magic – all qualities of the restored Utah Theatre. d more. Ballam said the theater will not play movies that are playing in nearby cinemas because they don’t want to arouse concerns of competition.
June 14, 2016
From the Fayette Tribune: The Historic Fayette Theater has served the community of Southern West Virginia for the past 23 years. However, the historic building in which it is located has had some limitations. The restrooms are currently located on the second floor, accessible only by a flight of steps. Creating handicap-accessible restrooms has long been a priority for the HFT’s Board of Directors and this summer the renovation work will finally commence.
The entire lobby will be renovated and will include two handicap-accessible bathrooms. This work will be funded in part by a generous fund dedicated to the memory of Alice Todaro.
Alice Todaro was long time supporter of the arts in general and the Historic Fayette Theater in particular. She served on the Board of Directors and regularly attended performances. She even appeared in several productions, telling people that the role she liked the best was when she shot the prop gun simulating the assassination of Teddy Roosevelt in Gene Worthington’s rendition of Bully.
May 26, 2016
From WSET.com: The historic Academy Theatre in Lynchburg reached their campaign goal to restore and reopen the theater.
Not only have they reached the goal, they surpassed it.
The campaign’s original goal was to raise $16.6 million dollars.
However, they report to ABC 13 that they raised $16.75 million dollars.
This means that the Academy Theatre will begin a fast-tracked construction schedule in June.
They plan to reopen in 2018.
While the goal has been met, they will continue to accept donations to reserve funds for contingencies.
May 24, 2016
From the Washington Times: The overhaul of the Momence Theater is in its final stages but is still in need of a cash injection to get the final upgrades completed.
When this money comes in, members of the Momence Theatre Friends, the management organization for the North Dixie Highway property, believe the building could be ready to host visitors within 30-45 days.
The return to use for the approximate 3,400-square-foot property has been years in the making. Plans to redevelop the building – built in 1924 – began in 2006.
“Kankakee County needs this theater because we need more community arts involvement,” said Keri Perkins, treasurer of the Friends organization. “This could really help Momence develop.”
Started as a location for vaudeville-type performances, the theater became a location for first-run films and then X-rated movies. The theater eventually closed in the 1970s and, other than one or two events, has not been used since.
Purchased by John Sokol, an Aroma Township businessman, in 2013 from Mark Noeller for $77,000, Sokol always believed the theater would be something managed and operated by and for the community.
May 20, 2016
From Cleveland.com: Playhouse Square is turning back the clock 95 years in the Ohio Theatre lobby Thursday by unveiling a spectacular re-creation of the long-lost neo-Renaissance interior designed by architect Thomas Lamb.
The original largely burned to a crisp in 1964, leaving little trace of its ornate splendor. Now, however, it’s 1921 all over again.
The cove-lighted barrel vault high overhead drips with scores of square yards of swags, medallions and floral motifs painted in delicately stippled shades of salmon pink, beige, dusty green and Pompeian red, accented by touches of gold.
Lamb, described as a “king of theaters” in his 2008 New York Times obituary, would have been proud.
May 16, 2016
From WTOV9.com: Two separate grants for work on the Grand Theater will help bring the community landmark back to life.
The stage at the Grand Theater used to host casts of performances before it closed in 1979. For the past 6 years, a theater restoration group has been working to get it back to its former glory.
Now, two grants they just received are bringing them one step closer to completion.
The historic walls of the Grand Theater hold years of movies, performances and parties. Scott Dressell, with the Grand Theater restoration project, is working to make that history a part of Steubenville’s future.
“We really need a destination for entertainment downtown to turn around the lack of activity and the Grand will definitely provide that,” Dressell said.
The group just received two grants to continue the work on the interior and exterior of the building.
Dressell said the changes will “bring it back to what it looked like in 1924.”
A $70,000 Community Development Block grant will help repair the façade, and a $75,000 grant from the state will help repair the decorative interior.
“It’s the last theater of the five that used to be here so to lose this would be tragic,” Dressell said.
There’s still a long way to go but none of the work would have been possible this year without this funding. Dressell believes the funding will have a big payoff in the long run for the community.
“In every other city where a theater’s been restored, it really makes a big difference economically,” Dressell said.
The exterior is expected to be completed sometime this summer. The interior work should start in the fall.
Photos courtesy of historicsteubenville.org